I love seeing the way California celebrates Christmas, even when most places have warm weather and very little snow. I also like visiting the small town of Solvang and experiencing its beautiful Danish charm on trips up Highway 101. Putting the two together, I was surprised to notice on a recent trip that Solvang also has a lot of decorations for Christmas, making it a great place to celebrate Christmas time in California by just strolling the streets at night. Here is all the info.
- Usually decorated by the first week of December
- Lots of hotels during this off time for travel
- Weekend activities you can see online, like a tree lighting, parade and Christmas Market
Solvang was founded in 1911 on almost 9,000 acres of the Rancho San Carlos de Jonata Mexican land grant, by a group of Danes who traveled west to establish a Danish colony far from the midwestern winters. The city is home to several bakeries, restaurants, and merchants offering a taste of Denmark in California. The architecture of many of the facades and buildings reflects traditional Danish style.
While you can see Christmas all over this town, here are my favorite spots for it.
What is known to most as the landmark of this small town, the windmill is a great place to start on your journey. While the windmill itself does not have any real decorations, there are a lot of small shops next to it that will help you get into the Christmas spirit.
The main road in the downtown area of Solvang, Copenhagen Drive, is where all of the shops are, including the famous shoe shop. Most of the stores have their own Christmas Trees outside of the window and are usually decorated beautifully with items that represent the store. A perfect example is a tree with the pretzels hanging from it outside of a bakery (my dog couldn’t get enough of this tree).
The street is lined with beautiful lights as well and makes for a fun or romantic stroll on a cold December night.
This small park is known for its Hans Christian Andersen Statue and its clean bathrooms, but at Christmas time, even Hans gets some festive trees around him. The gazebos are also decorated across from the park, and on some winter nights, there is an ice skating rink.
Lastly, this road that connects to Copenhagen Drive (home to the famous windmill), and it also has a lot of beautiful decorations lining its street.
From lights to Christmas trees, all of the store owners seem to be involved.
I especially liked the decorations outside of the Bit O’ Denmark, one of the most famous restaurants, which has been around for almost a century.
So if you are looking for Christmas spirit and find yourself traveling up the 101, I would highly recommend spending a couple of hours, or a night soaking in Solvang.